Slavery, Emancipation, and Memory: Exploratory Notes on Western Ethiopia

Note: Pricing may changed if you are purchasing on behalf of an institution, or are purchasing from within Africa. You will have a chance to review your actual pricing once you choose to purchase an item.

This is an individual article from a larger publication. Click here to see the entire publication.


Abstract: The Ethiopian-Sudanese borderlands have been an area for slave raiding, leading to migration and flight and the uprooting of ethnic communities, until the late 1930s. In Ethiopia today, descendants of the former victims of slavery have received recognition and visibility in the political framework of “ethnic federalism” and undergo a process of reconfiguration of their identity. While slaves are often treated as people without history, in this paper I contend that the history of slavery shaped the regional “social memory”. Thus, the trajectories of slavery become underlying patterns framing the social interaction of people today. The paper is based on ongoing research in the modern administrative region of Benishangul-Gumuz, (western) Oromiya and Gambella of western Ethiopia. Looking at the experience of slavery of the Mao and Komo, the paper focuses on the memory of slavery among the descendants of slaves, who now live together with the former ruling elites, i.e. the slave-owning communities, and theoretically, share equal powers and political responsibilities in the modern administrative polities.